How to Protect North Texas Plants from Sudden Freeze
Date February 01, 2022
This week’s forecast sure looks awfully familiar. Is this 2021’s Winter Storm Uri making another appearance in North Texas? We can’t say for sure yet, but if we’ve learned anything from the past, we have a better chance this time to protect our plants and trees that were devastated just a year ago…just in case. Here are some tips for helping your yard survive the upcoming sudden winter freeze of 2022.
Water Your Plants
If you have a lead time of a day or two, it can be helpful to give your plants a little watering. Like a bear eating extra food before hibernation, this can help provide extra nutrition for your plants to last them through the freeze. If it rains before the temperature (which it very well may here in DFW), account for that watering before adding to it. Moist soil will keep the ground around the plant warmer than if the soil stays dry. You want the plant’s root structure to stay as cozy and insulting as possible to minimize the risk of injury from the temperature drop.
Remember: When watering your plants, make sure to avoid leaving the leaves wet and focus on the roots below ground instead. Any water on exposed leaves will turn to frost which can cause damage and may even kill the entire plant much quicker than the effect of freezing temperatures alone.
Speaking of keeping plant roots cozy and insulated, building up mulch around your plants will be a key factor in protecting plants from the cold. Mulch keeps warmth in the surrounding turf trapped around the root system to minimize the freeze. This allows the plants to keep soaking up the moisture you (or nature) added.
Should old mulch be removed first? Not at all, especially if it’s organic mulch! As the old mulch breaks down, it will continue sending nourishment to the roots below, which is exactly what you want it to do. No need to add unnecessary work to remove it! As you’re spreading new mulch around the base of your plants, make sure it’s no less than 2 inches thick to supply proper insulation and no more than 4 inches thick so any moisture can still get to the ground below. Adding a light layer of water on top can help nestle the mulch naturally.
Cover Your Plants
The easiest way to protect potted plants is to bring them indoors. If that isn’t an option, shield them from the wind and place them close together so they can protect each other. While enclosing your plants can be a very good idea, be aware that not all plants do best with this measure and not all materials will be helpful. Plant life such as evergreen trees and succulents or carrots and chard in a vegetable garden are hardy enough to withstand those temperatures on their own. As for what to cover them with, plastic may seem like a good and easy solution, but keep in mind that plastic does not allow a plant to breathe. Trapping moisture can end up causing damage to the plants. If plastic is the only choice for you, be sure to promptly remove it when the sun comes up.
Instead, if possible, use old sheets or towels, a tarp, or a specially designed frost cloth. Note: stick to thicker materials like hefty blankets and burlap for a hard freeze (five hours or more of 28-degree weather). Your best chance of trapping warmth is covering your plants before it starts getting dark. Again, make sure you’re using breathable material.
Can Plants Protect Themselves From Freezing?
It’s certainly possible for a plant to do its self-preserving best. Any dead leaves still attached may be naturally retained as a form of insulation, so make sure to leave them be. Snow is also a great natural insulator, like a blanket of moisture. Even at the cellular level, some plants have inherent seals to cut off internal damage before further cells are affected by the freeze. Nature is truly amazing, isn’t it?
Preparing for sudden freezes can be a challenge, but TreeNewal is here to help you get through it!
If you need help with preparing your yard for upcoming freezes, get in touch with the ISA-certified arborists at TreeNewal and enjoy tailored tree care advice.
To learn more about How to Protect North Texas Plants from Sudden Freeze, call our Argyle and Southlake-based teams
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